Automotive

How Russian Oligarchs Are Hiding Their Superyachts In Plain Sight

Mega-yachts, private jets, and penthouses owned by ultra-wealthy individuals are often held through shell companies, which can obscure the identity of the real owner. Shady individuals, or those with reason to fear their assets could be seized, can layer multiple shell companies on top of one other in separate offshore havens to create a legal maze for investigators to sort through.

For the moment, whenever Western officials announce action against a luxury property owned by a sanctioned Russian individual, the reaction from the wealthy Russian in question has generally been silence—creating a haze of uncertainty about whether officials have even got the right vessel.

“Life would be much simpler if someone like Igor Sechin would just own everything in own his name, and put his picture on the side of his boat, but that’s not the world we live in,” said Adam Smith, who served in the Obama Administration as the senior advisor to the director of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control, the agency that administers and enforces U.S. trade sanctions.

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